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Celebrate the happy years, Sister Parkin admonishes

On a day of celebration — a "count-your-blessings day" — Sister Bonnie D. Parkin counseled 2,790 BYU graduates to choose to celebrate their years at the Church university and the many years ahead.

"Today is a day of celebrating both where you've been and your leap into the uncharted territory we call life," she said, while offering the keynote address at BYU's August commencement ceremonies Aug. 11.

Sister Parkin, general Relief Society president and a member of the BYU Board of Trustees, also conducted the convocation proceedings held in the BYU Marriott Center. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve presided. Elder Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy and BYU president participated in the ceremony and addressed the graduates — who completed bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees this summer.

During her address, Sister Parkin asked the graduates what they will say about their years at BYU. "Let me make a suggestion," she said. "Just as you celebrate this day, choose to celebrate those years. I know there were struggles and hard times. But celebrate what was happy."

She encouraged the graduates to celebrate the people they have met and loved, the professor who changed who they are, and the employer who recognized their strengths.

"As you celebrate these things, you will begin to feel a deep sense of gratitude, which is an essential part of celebration. I have learned that we can actually increase our happiness by reflecting on our blessings, by expressing gratitude to our mentors, our family and friends, by thanking our Father in Heaven. . . .

"And celebrate where you're going. As you put Provo in your rearview mirror to face the unexpected, choose to celebrate what's to come, to be happy wherever you find yourself, in whatever finds you. . . . Come what may, celebrating is a choice, your choice."

Recounting that she recently heard a bird singing in the rain, Sister Parkin said happiness does not come from money, recreation, position or even college degrees. Time magazine, she continued, devoted an issue to the subject, and found that happiness comes from counting blessings, being kind, giving thanks, forgiving, investing time and energy in friends and family, taking care of your body, and coping with stress and hardships.

"Doesn't each of these actions include a choice to celebrate? Would one of these steps work for you?" she added.

Sister Parkin said everyone will face struggles which will try them to the breaking point. "But I believe that making it has less to do with what happens to us than how we choose to handle it. . . .

"As you reflect on your BYU days, I pray that you will choose to celebrate all that was happy, and good, and productive. I pray, too, that you will choose to move forward with that same attitude toward all you undertake and all that undertakes you.

"You can make it. You must make it. May you do so with a heart of celebration. And may the Lord continue His watch over you as you let your celebrations so shine among all you meet."

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